Colum­nist Robert Tri­gaux sorts out the win­ners and losers after the storm.

Tampa Bay Times - - Front Page - ROBERT TRI­GAUX Con­tact Robert Tri­gaux at rtri­gaux@tam­pabay.com. Fol­low @ven­ture­tam­pabay.

Face it. Ev­ery­body in Florida was a loser to the statewide ram­page by Hur­ri­cane Irma. Florid­i­ans suf­fered dis­tress and fear, ex­pense, the home-vs.-work tug of war, evac­u­a­tion (and post-storm re­turn) hell, per­sonal dis­com­fort, dam­age and — even now for too many res­i­dents and busi­nesses — op­pres­sive power out­ages that Irma de­liv­ered from the Keys to Tampa Bay to Jack­sonville. • Still, out of this mess there are win­ners of a sort, just as there are losers of all kinds. • Here are my top win­ners and losers. Ask me in a week or a month from now and the list will have changed, just as the post-Irma scene will evolve. • But this is now, so here they are:

WIN­NERS

TAMPA BAY

At one point last week, this metro-who-must-not-be-hit was in the ex­act path of a Cat 4 Irma. Then the hur­ri­cane shifted di­rec­tion, a bit, while los­ing its worst punch. There’s a rea­son the top head­line in the Tampa Bay Times “Hur­ri­cane Edi­tion” on Sept. 11 reads “WE’RE LUCKY.”

Maybe that should be­come Tampa Bay’s new slo­gan. FLORIDA IN­SUR­ERS

Had a Cat­e­gory 4 or 5 Irma hit high-pop­u­la­tion ar­eas in Florida, this state’s crop of young and still untested prop­erty in­sur­ance com­pa­nies eas­ily could have been over­whelmed by bil­lions of dol­lars in claims. In­stead, in­sur­ers sur­vived to await the next great storm.

GOV. RICK SCOTT

Sure, we are all tired of hear­ing our gov­er­nor give the same dire warn­ings of im­mi­nent death and de­struc­tion to Florid­i­ans who did not evac­u­ate. But Scott (and his Navy cap) owned the Irma air­waves, earn­ing the wide­spread per­cep­tion that Florida was on top of the Irma cri­sis.

TOURISM

Tourism es­caped what could have been a crip­pling blow — be it end­less miles of man­gled beach­front towns or badly dam­aged theme parks across Or­lando. Now tourism’s mes­sage is easier: Irma’s gone but we’re still here. Come on down!

HOME PREP, FOOD STORES How much did you spend on bot­tled wa­ter, bat­ter­ies, ply­wood and junk food to pre­pare for Irma? Per­son­ally, I es­ti­mate about $350. I will be shocked if Home De­pot, Publix and other chains in Florida do not rack up huge sales gains fu­eled by Irma be­ing de­scribed for days on na­tional TV as “cat­a­strophic.”

BAY NEWS 9

Amid the overkill by the na­tional TV me­dia to cover Irma, the lo­cal Bright House Net­works-now-Spec­trum news/weather chan­nel dis­tin­guished it­self with less sen­sa­tional, we-knowTampa-Bay cov­er­age be­fore, dur­ing and after the hur­ri­cane.

GASO­LINE

Sure it was in short sup­ply. But name an­other com­mod­ity that got de­liv­ered by po­lice es­cort?

TAMPA MAYOR

BOB BUCK­HORN

He en­joyed plenty of na­tional me­dia at­ten­tion as our tough, spir­ited leader of­fer­ing such pithy gems to CNN’s An­der­son Cooper as: “We are about to get our own ver­sion of what hell looks like over the next 24 hours.” In the end, there was no catas­tro­phe. But the good PR re­mains. ANY­WHERE WITH A/C Whether it was the movie house, malls or lo­cal Star­bucks, any place that al­lowed Florid­i­ans who had lost power a few hours to get some tem­po­rary air con­di­tion­ing re­lief and recharge their cell­phones may as well have been heaven.

LOSERS

FLORIDA’S IM­AGE

We saw it after Hur­ri­cane An­drew in 1992 and again in 2004-2005 when a flurry of ma­jor storms struck Florida. Any big hur­ri­canes that dom­i­nate na­tional and in­ter­na­tional news cov­er­age — as Irma did — send a broad mes­sage that Florida can be a dan­ger­ous place at times. That will have a detri­men­tal eco­nomic im­pact on the state, but not for long. Hur­ri­canes be damned, there’s a rea­son more than 20 mil­lion peo­ple call Florida home th­ese days. UTIL­I­TIES

Duke En­ergy Florida, Tampa Elec­tric, FPL and dozens of other util­i­ties are try­ing to put the state’s Humpty Dumpty elec­tric grid back to­gether — a her­culean task. Think of all those homes and busi­nesses with­out power. Nor­mally, they should be send­ing monthly checks to cover big power bills in this hot weather. Not this time. FLORIDA’S CIT­RUS CROP Our state’s or­ange juice in­dus­try was al­ready in a tail­spin. Hur­ri­canes in 2004-2005 hurt. Then a nasty green­ing dis­ease and chang­ing con­sumer tastes have fur­ther dec­i­mated cit­rus out­put. Irma made things far worse, dam­ag­ing as much as 70 per­cent of the crop in parts of South Florida.

AIR­LINES

Just when folks needed a quick flight out of Florida to es­cape Irma, many air­lines were pric­ing their one-way tick­ets at ultra-high prices. Amid out­cries of price goug­ing, air­lines will be re­mem­bered poorly by some — though most air trav­el­ers have very short-term mem­o­ries when it comes to air­line rep­u­ta­tions.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

As the Rays en­tered a do-or­die stretch to reach the play­offs, the team was rerouted to New York. What should have been a crit­i­cal se­ries at the Trop against the Yan­kees was, thanks to Irma, played at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. Trop at­ten­dance at Rays home games is puny enough but play­ing key games at guest sta­di­ums — just as the Hous­ton Astros played the Texas Rangers at the Trop after Hur­ri­cane Har­vey — can un­set­tle any dis­placed team.

ST. PETE MAYOR’S RACE The Rick (Krise­man) vs. Rick (Baker) cam­paign fight was front and cen­ter un­til Irma back-burnered lo­cal politics. Now the du­el­ing Ricks must re­assess if their cam­paign pitches need tweak­ing postIrma in or­der to rekin­dle in­ter­est among St. Pete’s dis­tracted vot­ers.

PINEL­LAS COUNTY

Its dense pop­u­la­tion suf­fered a higher per­cent­age of elec­tric­ity out­ages — more than 70 per­cent — from Irma than Hills­bor­ough or Pasco, and thus may suf­fer a slower re­turn to nor­malcy. CRUISE SHIPS

Plenty of cruise ships sail­ing from Tampa to the Caribbean were de­layed or rerouted to is­lands that were not se­verely dam­aged by the early Cat 5 winds of Irma. Not a great sell­ing point for the fall sea­son. From St. Martin to Bar­buda to the U.S. and Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands, dam­age to the is­lands was heavy.

HAR­VEY

The Texas hur­ri­cane that seemed to in­un­date half of Texas with flood­wa­ters be­came yes­ter­day’s news when Cat 5 Irma bar­reled across the Caribbean to­ward Florida. Now Irma and Har­vey share the dis­as­ter lime­light and the nation’s at­ten­tions and re­sources. Like it or not, the woes and re­build­ing of Florida and Texas are now closely in­ter­twined.

LARA CERRI | Times

FLORIDA’S IM­AGE

TAMPA MAYOR BOB BUCK­HORN

HOME PREP, FOOD STORES

GOV. RICK SCOTT

UTIL­I­TIES

CRUISE SHIPS

TOURISM

AIR­LINES

BAY NEWS 9

CIT­RUS CROP

GASO­LINE

ST. PETE MAYOR’S RACE

FLORIDA IN­SUR­ERS

TAMPA BAY RAYS

PINEL­LAS COUNTY

ANY­WHERE WITH A/C

HAR­VEY

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